Incontinence, Pain During Intercourse and other “Taboo” Subjects

Have you ever been laughing so hard with a group of friends that you hear someone say, “Stop making me laugh so hard or I’m going to pee my pants!”?

Well, this is no joke!

Urinary Incontinence” or what I jokingly like to call “Laughing too hard with friends syndrome” is a real thing.

As moms we try to make even the darkest days seem like a picnic for our children. I think we also tend to do this when we confide in our friends.

  • Have you ever told a friend that sex has been a little more difficult than usual? (Vaginal Pain During Intercourse or Vaginal Dryness) 
  • Or how about that you’re having issues with “number two?” (Bowel Incontinence) 
  • Do you talk seriously about still wearing pregnancy clothes months after you’ve given birth? (Diastasis Recti)  

It’s a lot more fun to talk about our crazy kids or relay funny stories than to bring up these subjects, but maybe if we did, it wouldn’t be a surprise to know that these issues have regular treatment plans in a special field of Physical Therapy.

Melody had an in depth chat about Women’s Health with Karen Munger at the Center for Physical Rehab. As a specialist in this field, Karen explains how PT for Women’s Health is for Every Age and Every Stage.

Women's Health PT Specialist, CPR

Karen Munger, CPR’s Women’s Health PT Specialist

Why Would I go to PT for my Women’s Health Issues?

Until recently, I considered most postpartum issues things that just come with the mom territory.

Ladies, these issues are common, but they are not normal. There is actually something to be done about “peeing your pants” and a whole slew of other amazing treatments that I had no idea existed within PT.

Lauren Hill’s rendition of “Killin’ Me Softly” ran through my mind as I watched this video. Karen was “singing my life with her words”!

Straight talk on women’s health

Straight talk on women’s health with physical therapist Karen Munger: hormones, post-baby issues and all the things you want to know but are too afraid to ask. This video covers exercises new & postpartum moms can do and things to watch out for. You can call Karen at The Center for Physical Rehabilitation and ask your questions – or request a free 15-minute consult: 616-954-0950 // more info at http://pt-cpr.com/

Posted by Grand Rapids Kids on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Straight Talk: 3 Embarrassing Issues Women Face and Ways We Can Move Forward

1 – Diastasis Recti, or, “Why Do I Still Look Pregnant After Having my Baby?”

My jaw dropped when Karen said that most of the women treated recover from Diastasis Recti! (They haven’t had a patient NOT recover yet!) I have Diastasis Recti! …And I could be cured!!

Diastasis Recti is a condition where your abdominal muscles have separated down the midline, causing your stomach to protrude and give you that “still pregnant” look even months or years after you’ve given birth.

My first birth experience was traumatizing, long, and I ended up with a massive  c-section scar about a half an inch thick in height and spanning my abdomen, leaving my lower core muscles divided because of the incision.

A friend insisted that her OB could “fix my tummy” and he was wonderfully helpful – removing three inches of skin, tons of scar tissue, and stitching up my lower core muscles leaving little to no scar visible.

Why Did I Still Look Pregnant?

Tummy tuck, a baby in my arms, things should be great right?! It turned out that during pregnancy I had gained a large muscle gap in my upper core. Nothing fit me except my pregnancy clothes that once felt adorable but now just felt embarrassing.

My OB diagnosed it as Diastasis Recti. He gave me four exercises to try at home but unfortunately, he did not refer me to Physical Therapy.

Although I have had significant results, I still struggle with back pain and have a “mini hump” in my upper torso area.

So, I am THRILLED to know that it’s not too late for us ladies!

If you’re afraid to make movements, feel that the connective tissue is bulging when you sit up, or still feel that your postpartum body resembles your pregnant shape, you are not alone!

But this is not something you need to bear forever – these stability muscles are suppose to be together and they still can be. You can call or meet with Karen at CPR for a 15 minute conversation/consultation to find out if Women’s Health PT is a good fit for your symptoms.

2 – Urinary and Bowel Stress Incontinence and Urgency

Wouldn’t it be awesome if GR moms could jump with their kids at a trampoline park without having to change their pants afterward? Jokes aside, it’s pretty great news, am I right?!

Urinary/Bowel Stress Incontinence and Urgency plays no favorites and affects millions of women in America. This condition tends to be something most women believe to be a burden they will carry for the rest of their lives – but it doesn’t have to be!

PT can help you regain control of your bladder and bowels.

Estrogen levels drop, hormones change, and muscles need to be re-trained. I’ve heard many moms say “Oh I just have to go all the time.”

Karen explains in her FB live that “something initiated the problem of going all of the time.” Simple tips, behavioral habits and dietary changes followed by learning how and when to use the pelvic floor muscles can retrain bladders.

Some signs that you need an appointment to determine if PT can help are pelvic/abdominal pain and Tailbone pain.

3 – Pain or Dryness During Intercourse

This topic is delicate and does not have to be journeyed alone! So many women think it’s just their new norm.

To insure that you get the best care and find answers, Karen’s job is to determine when other professional experts could be involved. Even though patients don’t need a referral to work with CPR you’ll want to have a doctor involved in this process and aware of your symptoms.

There could be so many different drivers of pain during intercourse. But no matter the cause of pain, having a team of people including PT, working to help figure out how to help, is essential.

It is important to get the big picture of what is going on. After making sure it is not infection, PT is an effective treatment. Karen says that In addition to PT, “a woman may benefit from a professional who specializes in hormones, nutrition, psychology or social work.”

There could be tightness on one side or the other. Some people may need more relaxation, some may need to kegel, others may need hormone treatment.

Assessment Through Biofeedback Machines

This is where  CPR’s Biofeedback machine comes in. CPR has a machine that is hooked up to your body sending information to tell them what what your pelvic floor is doing.

It is important to relax your pelvic floor because our core muscles work as a team and when there is a problem/difficulty coordinating even one muscle, the others are affected as well.  

What can women expect if they’ve never been evaluated for pelvic pain or urinary/bowel incontinence?

If you have never had PT for Women’s Health before it could seem a little daunting. Most people know what to expect going into the OB but PT? What is going to happen? Here’s how to be mentally prepared for this procedure.

  • Consent to a Pelvic Floor Examination
  • Undressed from the waist down
  • Have a private room and closed door, and their own bathroom inside the room
  • Be tested on initial hip and core strength
  • Have a musculoskeletal examination of the pelvic floor muscles
  • Have possible special testing to find out origin of problem
  • Be explained what is being done, observed, and found
  • Be given a plan of action

Safe Exercises Women can do During Pregnancy and Postpartum

If I had known about PT for women’s health sooner I may be further along at this point, but we can’t go back; we can only move forward. So, whether you’re going into or coming out of pregnancy, our core muscles can start to be engaged right now!

There’s no need to be afraid to do exercises at any point. Our core supports us our whole lives and needs to be engaged through each phase. Without this it can become harder and harder for us to stabilize our bodies. Karen shows us that adding certain exercises to our habits, routines, and even other exercises is easy and doable:

Pregnancy exercises, safe at any stage: Minute 8:32

Don’t worry mommas that are used to rigorous workouts – these are still for you and are options for helping to stabilize your core through pregnancy. Our main focus when doing these should be quality vs. quantity when engaging the core muscles protecting the back and pelvic organs while your little peanut is cheering you on from inside.  

Postpartum exercises, safe at any stage: Minute 12:50

Get started kicking in your muscles, encouraging healing and blood flow as soon as 2 days after vaginal delivery or C-Section and as far out as 60+ years old. Gentle muscle setting exercises can be done with 20-50 percent effort in the case of a C-Section and vaginal delivery.

And just like that our daily routines with newborns/kids take us into a whirlwind of life and time gets tight. Check out Jessica at CPR’s PT Hacks to help you keep up with the kiddos.

These exercises coordinate the core muscles so that later it will be much easier to apply these muscles to high level exercise programs.

Karen encourages us that we might have to do one thing at a time or even just intentional breathing as we listen to our bodies. She would love to meet with you for one or two sessions to help get you started.

Going at a pace that is good for us individually and backing off if we are experiencing pain is very important. It was so fascinating to me to learn that re-educating and regaining connection from the brain to muscles is key.

Open Dialogue about Women’s Health is Expected and Encouraged

I’ve dreaded my appointments to the doctors at times. Knowing we need to talk about something but not bringing it up can leave women with unanswered questions and untreated issues.

PT is blazing a trail for Women’s Health in these areas and specifically Karen at CPR has given an open invitation to GR Women to start talking about them so they can be treated.

Ladies you are worth it! These unspoken issues can sneak up and multiply stopping us from our daily lives if we don’t pay attention to them.

CPR is expecting us to bring them up and encourage us to take the time to listen to our bodies. Doing this could change the course of our lives.

Calling to see if CPR should be your next step is easy. I am so inspired and excited to share with you where my journey ends up with PT. And I can’t wait to hear about your transformations as well!

Locations in Downtown GR, Cascade, Wyoming, Belmont, and Walker

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By | 2018-03-20T19:30:41+00:00 March 14th, 2018|Categories: Health, Physical Therapy Info, Wellness for Families|0 Comments

About the Author:

Carla Brooks
Carla is an Oregon born, Michigan raised photographer, runner, mom of two awesome boys, and wife to poet Sareem Poems. Carla enjoys adventuring, playing the piano and singing, trying different foods, reading or watching a good story, and most of all spending time with her family.

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